’22 Jun: Westfjords and Snæfellsnes

and Horses, Iceland

Into The Westfjords

I’m going to be talking about the roads and you’ll see why!

Good morning from Karuna Guesthouse. They didn’t offer riding here but they did let you snuggle those horses all you wanted and they left boiled up eggs from the chickens in the refrigerator for the guests.

I learned some things about the Icelandic horses. They mostly stay out all winter. They might appreciate a place to get out of the wind but inside they get too hot. They grow a huge winter coat and shed it in the spring. They put on tons of weight in the winter from inactivity and from being fed instead of grazing. You are not allowed to own horses unless you can prove that you have food for them to cover the winter. The government comes around and checks! Animal welfare is important in Iceland.

They’re helping each other shed their winter coats. It itches until they can get it off!

This is why there’s not going to be much for today.

What you see above is a very decent gravel road. They come in ‘ok, I can do this’ all the way to ‘now I’m begging for mercy’.

Notice the tall yellow pole above. All the roads have yellow poles marking the road bed, taller and shorter depending on the average snow level. As you’ll see the roads are elevated and you don’t want to drop off!

The paved roads are fantastic especially when it’s clear. Even when it’s raining, for some reason I don’t know yet, the roads always look and act dry. They are smooth, so well maintained, the sight lines are excellent, I have not encountered a single problem with a driver either wanting to pass me or I them. It’s quite amazing. If you’re considering driving in Iceland, Go For It!

BUT you must check the weather every day and be ready to change your plans. I think I might change tomorrow’s plans because one of the roads I need to be on is both gravel and reporting high winds and high winds here push you right off the road.

Here’s the website and what the navigable map looks like. You can click click online. What’s awesome about this map is that it shows the gravel roads and paved roads in a different color. None of my other maps did. There are other roads, you just shouldn’t be on them.

And here’s the map for today’s journey, the longest in time of all my legs mostly because of the Mountains and Gravel Roads. (I’ve talked about that combination before! As I write this on June 2 all is well, the new car, a Kia Sportage, is holding up like a champ.)


Some views when the fog lifted:

See the medium-height yellow poles, guard rails for sharp turns, how you don’t want to fall off the road bed.
Another rainbow walk.
Cliffs for nesting seabirds.
Of course when I finally get a chance to grab a shot along this coast you don’t see any driftwood despite that I saw driftwood on every beach for an hour. So I nabbed a picture that looks right.
How do we get driftwood on the beach when we (literally!) don’t have any trees?
It takes 4-5 years but it does arrive. They use it for all sorts of things (summer houses, bonfires, art projects, not commercially it seems.)

I was hungry and not in the mood for a gas station sandwich so although I was not planning to visit the Museum of Sorcery and Witchcraft, they did have a restaurant. I had fish soup that was absolutely splendid so…
…I thought ok, I’ll have a look at their museum. It’s worth it for the food (everyone was exclaiming about their food). The museum was a ‘not so much’, but fun nonetheless.

It was a long day and when I arrived at Country Hotel Heydalur I just went to my room to watch a little tv and stretch out from the long drive. Oh no! They didn’t have blackout curtains so all night it was basically day! I told them about it in the morning and they apologized totally and fixed it in 5 minutes. Every accommodation has blackout curtains, even here, they just made a mistake. Like all the little stumbles on this trip, everything has been easily and cheerfully made right.

Heydalur And Horses

The breakfast buffet at Country Hotel Heydalur was similar to all the others, I’m trying to think what made it better…two kinds of arctic char, two kinds of herring, homemade jams, different kinds of cheese, bacon and eggs (rare actually), bread and rolls warm and fresh out of the oven, pretty good fresh fruit, and then all the regular things too, the regular sliced cheeses and various meats, cereal, sliced cucumber, tomatoes, red bell peppers. More too. I see peanut butter and honey. They were always running out of things which was ok because if you asked they’d gladly bring more. At the end there wasn’t a lot of waste. Actually at the end staff would come through to fill a plate and then there wasn’t anything left.

I’m staying here all day and driving nowhere. Wow.

They have a nice pool to enjoy.
And an outdoor hot pot.
Plenty of lovely walks.

But Mostly! HORSES.

They live down in the fields and this lovely young woman brings them up when there are tourists around to go for a ride.

Giving us instructions
And we’re off!

I didn’t take many pictures on the trail because it was so rocky my horse’s hooves would occasionally slip meaning I had to pay attention, and we crossed water several times which was even more slippery. Near the end of the hour I was ‘getting it’ for the slips and it was a lot easier. In fact, it was a BLAST!

That’s the guide and the three other riders from Germany.

They have a big green house, I can’t believe I forgot to visit there.
And they are planting trees every year around the hillsides. The trees don’t grow much though, and I doubt that they will be contributing much to the driftwood piles from Siberia.
We finished out the day around 9pm enjoying a beer fest with my three Germans from the ride and another unrelated German whose friend had just left. Of course their English was perfect and I had a great time hearing about their trips.

How Did I Get Here

I left Heydalur on the late side because first I had to make friends with this Arctic fox, the only mammal native to Iceland. This guy came around the kitchen when she was just a kit, probably abandoned or orphaned, and although never tamed, when she has just had a litter she comes back for food because, they think, it’s easier than hunting.

Leaving Heydalur all I had to do was drive to my next destination and enjoy the landscape along the way. So weather-wise, not the best day for such a project, raining as often as not, and somewhere along the line the gps kept insisting I turn HERE:

The dreaded Impassable. But all the roads were open when I left. Did I put in the wrong destination?
Eventually it all worked out but I don’t know how or by what route I reached Guesthouse Stekkaból in Patreksfjörður.


Here are a few pictures I was able to catch between the rains.

This was an odd encampment setup around an area of protected nesting birds.
Notice the gold sand beach on the left, more are coming.

Arriving in Patreksfjörður after the long drive I decided to eat an actual dinner in an actual restaurant and picked the ‘best place in town’. Oh my goodness, it was wonderful. I’ve had the lamb soup and the smoked lamb sandwich slices but I’d not yet had a piece of meat. I got the ribeye, prepared perfectly, I mean really really good.

Látrabjarg And A Ferry

A car ferry bobbing around in the North Atlantic.
I thought it would be a fun change of pace. It was a change of pace and a nice hit of deja vu for sure. More later.


Látrabjarg, the westernmost point in Iceland at the tip of the lowest finger of the Westfjords. Látrabjarg is a monumental area of bird cliffs. So many birds. I read there were 160,000 pairs of nesting razorbills alone.

My guesthouse in Patreksfjörður had a lovely breakfast room:

I took a lazy morning and then headed out for the 1 1/2 hour drive to see the birds in the cliffs at Látrabjarg.

On the way another gold sand beach. Some of them are yellow, some red, it’s something I could look-up.

Here’s the thing about seeing puffins. During the nesting months they fly out in the morning on the early side and come back late so if you don’t catch them then you’ll still find a few who have stayed behind but not the nice crowds you see in National Geographic.

Fun Fact! auroraexpeditions says you can call a group of puffins “by a range of names – a colony, a circus, a puffinry, a gathering, a burrow, or an improbability.”

It was SO windy out there I have no idea how those birds stayed attached to the cliffs. Amazing. And I did see a few more puffins too. But these guys were not as lively as the ones in Bakkagerði in East-Iceland when I stayed at Blábjörg Resort, maybe because they were too busy hanging on.

There are thousands of birds, many cliffs, and a dozen different kinds of birds but when you see this you can know for sure, Puffins!

I passed this once before in the rain. Twice in the rain! I got the clear picture off the internet and saw the second member of the duo today and I’ll tell about it then.
The ferry, and there is nothing else around except down the road 10 minutes there’s an overpriced restaurant even by Iceland standards. Many people I later saw on the ferry were hanging out there too.
I heard a lot of people moaning about the bobbing around but I went outside and it was fine, cold but fine.
Through the muddy front window, welcome to yet again another delightfully cute town, this one is called Stykkishólmur. I took this picture at 10pm. I’ll spend this night and tomorrow night here.

Snæfellsnes Peninsula

The first two pictures are of the Snæfellsjökull volcano in Snæfellsjökull National Park. On a clear day you can see its peak from Reykjavik. There’s a technical reason why it is visible from so far away that I didn’t understand entirely, or at all. It’s a 700,000 years old glacier-capped stratovolcano (wikipedia knows all about it…). “The mountain is one of the most famous sites of Iceland, primarily due to the novel Journey to the Center of the Earth by Jules Verne, written in 1864 in which the protagonists find the entrance to a passage leading to the center of the earth on Snæfellsjökull.”

I arrived late to Helgafell from the ferry. Helgafell is the name of the small community where I will stay for two nights in the small cottage on the right.

On the first night it was cloudy (surprise!) but on the second night I got to see the midnight sun for only the second time. All the other nights I was either asleep or it was cloudy. But two is pretty good! I took these pictures at the same time, midnight, out the same window, but a different zoom, and I added some contrast to the second one so we could see that sun. I should redo these…

Bárðar Saga Snæfellsáss Statue, designed by Ragnar Kjartansson. The statue represents a half-human, half-troll protagonist of an important saga. Notice the teeny little people in the distance, to get a feeling for scale.
At the location of the Bárðar Saga Snæfellsáss Statue we find more bird cliffs.
This is about 1/8th of the size of the cliff as it drops down to the sea. Poo, lots of poo. All the cliff birds back up to the edge of their platform and shoot poo out in the direction away from where they’ve settled. All the visitors giggle when they see a good poo fly.
..just hangin’ out.
The Park Ranger said ‘probably trolls’.
A classic lighthouse at the tip of the Peninsula.

This guy is Kirkjufell “Church Mountain” near the town of Grundarfjörður. There are so many gorgeous pictures of this place but I didn’t have the time…like so many other places, a drive-by. Just a reason to come back!

And now it’s back to Reykjavik and only two more nights before Home Sweet Home.

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